Situated in a rather grey corner of Manchester, next to the Crown Court, Shimla Pinks welcomes its guests with an enticing aroma of spices.
According to Operations Director Jazz Pannum (pictured), this Indian restaurant is âa good mix between practicality and designâ? and you realize that when you see the waiters serving food on portable tables with great panache, almost like a magician unveiling their next trick.
Seated on black leather chairs, my guest and I were presented with menus. Looking around, the venue has the feel of a bar as much as a restaurant. Spot lights, pop background music and a prevalence of orange and purple on the walls combine warmth with modern tones.
Looking at the delicious starters the onset of hunger was thankfully allayed by a pile of Poppadoms and dips (mint and yoghurt sauce, mango chutney and spiced onions). Indecisive about which starter to pick from the extensive menu, we ordered the Mixed combo (Â£6.95), which came with a continental salad and accompanying dips, and some bottled Indian Cobra beer (Â£4.85 for a pint and Â£2.85 for half a pint). The samples comprised Chicken samosa, Onion bhaji, Tandoori king prawns, Mix vegetable pakora and Fish Amritsar. The soft texture of the deep fried chicken pastries matched well with the crispiness of the vegetables where as the spiciness of the smoky Tempura fried prawns was cooled by the delicate flavour of the cod chunks. The fried onions were sweet but a bit too heavy, and we wanted to invest our appetites on the mains.
Nentara king prawns (Â£12.95), Lamb rogan josh (Â£8.45) and Tandoori Salmon (Â£14.95) came with dips, steamed Basmati rice (Â£2.25) and two different types of naan bread: garlic and coriander and chilli and cheese (Â£2.95 each). The prawns - beautifully presented on a tray of white onions - were well cooked and highly spiced. Mr Pannum explained to us that they are caught in Norway and then marinated for 24 hours with spices (mace, cardamom, lemon juice, ginger and garlic) to keep them tender and juicy even if cooked on the barbeque. The lamb â served in a metal bowl, ideal to keep the meat hot â was soft and peppery and the chunky fillets of pink Scottish salmon were perfect if dipped into the creamy mint sauce with which they were served.
Satisfied but with a blazing palate, we had to ask for some refreshing desserts. The Lemon sorbet and the Vanilla and chocolate ice-cream (Â£3.95 each) were served on a huge plate which meant chasing the ice-cream around with the spoon. After such an inspiring meal, I thought that the dessert may have been surplus to requirement, you donât light the fire to then extinguish it.
In this location since 1999, Shimla Pinks is moving to Spinningfield in October. Apart from a totally different design (the designers have been working on the interiors for more than a year), according to Jazz, the lunch menu is also going to be a nice surprise. âLighter, healthier and with lots of tandoori and fishâ?.
We cannot wait.
M3 3 HA
0161 831 7099
Mon - Fri Lunch: 12.00-3.00pm Dinner: 5.00 - 11.00pm;
Sat - Sun Lunch: Closed Dinner: 5.00 - 11.00pm